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Tracey Hamston

I am interested in research that can be applied to the conservation of biodiversity. I have a keen interest in the natural history of the British Isles, particularly plants and their interactions with other species.

I also work part time for the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, where I co-ordinate the UK conservation programmes and native species research projects that support our reserve management, habitat restoration and WWCT species recovery programmes.

Key topics of interest include pollination ecology, molecular ecology, botanical recording and habitat restoration techniques. 

Current Project:

My PhD focuses on the evolutionary origins and reproductive ecology of the genus Sorbus (Whitebeams, Wild service tree and Rowans) within Devon and north Somerset. The genus Sorbus is a taxonomically complex group with over 40 species occurring in the UK. This complexity is driven by a process of hybridization resulting in polyploid taxa that reproduce largely asexually (apomixis). 

Many of these taxa exist as small populations and knowledge of their breeding systems is essential to ensure that a balance between species conservation and the preservation of the processes that gave rise to this taxonomic diversity is maintained.

My research uses molecular tools (microsatellites) to elucidate the phylogeny of the South West taxa and to answer questions about the evolutionary activity of Sorbus in this region. I am interested in understanding to what extent polyploids are reproductively isolated in natural populations and what environmental factors influence their establishment.

I work in conjunction with a number of other organisations also involved in plant evolutionary genetics: The National Botanic Garden of Wales; National Museum Cardiff; The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.




The University of Exeter, The Queen's Drive, Exeter, Devon, UK EX4 4QJ
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